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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

Esperantizing Your Name

First, let me say that a name is a personal thing, and everyone is entitled to do whatever they want with their own name. The below are only suggestions for people who are looking for advice on finding a fully Esperanto equivalent of their name. (Spelled using only Esperanto letters, and ending in -o or -'.)

There are four basic approaches to picking an Esperanto name: phonetic, graphemic, etymological, and meaning-based.

Phonetic Transliteration

The aim of phonetic transliteration is to, as far as possible, preserve the sound of a name. This is an imperfect process, since English has about 45 sounds while Esperanto only has 28 - so your name will probably come out sounding somewhat different.

To phonetically transliterate your name, first you need to get it into the International Phonetic Alphabet, which is used by linguists to compare sounds across languages. If your name is a fairly common name, you should be able to search the IPA spelling in Wiktionary (usually under section titled "Pronunciation") or Dictionary.com (click "SHOW IPA" once you have found your name.) Otherwise, you will need to use this chart or a similar one to manually convert your name.

Once you have the IPA version of your name, use the below approximations to respell it in Esperanto. If your name ends in a consonant, add an -o. If your name ends in a vowel, decide whether you want to replace that vowel with -o, or add an -o after that vowel.

IPA Letter IPA Letter
ʌ u, o b b
ɑ: a d d
æ a f f
e e h h
ɛ e j j
ə eŭ, e, a k k
ɜ:ʳ, əʳ, ɚ, ɝ er l l
ɪ e m m
i: i n n
ɨ i ŋ ng
ɒ o, a p p
ɔ: o r, ɹ r
ʊ u, o s s
u: u ʃ ŝ
aj t t
ĉ
ej θ t, f, s
o ð t, d, z, v
ɔɪ oj v v
eəʳ er w v, u
ɪəʳ ir z z
ʊəʳ ur ʒ ĵ
ĝ
g g

Examples: Michael (Majkelo), Alexander (Aligzandero), Zachary (Zakerio), Catherine (Kafrino), Dorothy (Doreŭfio), Jacqueline (Ĝakeŭlino)

Graphemic Transliteration

Where phonetic transliteration aims to preserve sound, graphemic transliteration aims to preserve spelling. This is a fairly trivial process, as long as your name is spelled using only standard Latin letters:

  • Preserve spelling one-to-one, with the following changes: x → ks, qu → kv, q → k, y → i/j, w → v/[after vowels] ŭ.
  • Freely choose between letters with hats, or those without.
  • Add -o (possibly replacing a final vowel.)
  • If there are difficult-to-pronounce consonant clusters, either drop letters or add vowels in between to make pronunciation easier.

Examples: Michael (Michaelo), Alexander (Aleksandero), Zachary (Zachario), Catherine (Catherino), Dorothy (Dorothio), Jacqueline (Jackvelino)

Notice how the above are pronounced. "Michaelo" is pronounced "Mits-ha-el-o", "Jackvelino" is pronounced "Jats-kve-li-no", etc.

Etymological Translation

Many names already have established equivalents in Esperanto. Major examples of these names are: Biblical names and names of historical figures.

For Biblical names, find a verse that mentions your name, then go here and find the same verse in Esperanto. (A number of names in the Bible are only half Esperantized. To fully Esperantize them add an -o at the end, replacing the final vowel if you desire.)

For names based on historical figures, find the Wikipedia page for that historical figure, and look at the column to the left of the article. At the bottom of that column, you should find a section titled "Languages." Click "Esperanto" (or "[number] more" followed by "Esperanto") and you should now have the established Esperanto equivalent of your name, if one exists. (If the name is feminine, it may only be half-Esperantized, ending in -a. For a fully esperantized version, replace -a with -o, -ino or -(a)njo. All other half-Esperantized names should have -o added, replacing a final vowel if desired.)

Examples: Michael (Miĥaelo), Alexander (Aleksandro), Zachary (Zakario), Catherine (Katerino), Dorothy (Doroteo), Jacqueline (Jakobino)

Sometimes you may have to get a little creative, especially if your name is a variant, nickname or gender-swapped form of the original name. For example, the equivalent of Josephine is "Jozef-in-o", etc.

Meaning-based Translation

Most names mean something. For example, "Beowulf" means "Bee-wolf" or "Bee-hunter" ("Bear"/"Woodpecker.")

Meaning-based translation involves Googling the meaning of a name, and simply translating that. (Behind the Name is an okay resource for this.)

Examples: Michael (Kiuestaskieldio), Alexander (Virdefendanto), Zachary (Eternulomemoraso), Catherine (Puro), Dorothy (Didonaco), Jacqueline (Kalkantenantino/Anstataŭantino)

Quick Note on Masculine Names Ending in -ino

Also, a quick note on masculine names that end in -ino. It is fairly common in Esperanto to replace -ino with -eno in masculine names to avoid confusion with the feminine suffix. Examples of this include: Aŭgusteno, Valenteno, Justeno.

October 10, 2019

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnMcKeon5

La kutima traduko en Esperanto de mia nomo estas Johano, sed mi preferas la nomon Ĝon(o). Dankon por la informo!

October 11, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

Shouldn't you use the Esperanto version of a name if there is one? For example, Johano instead of Ĝono, as one person posted here.

October 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

People's names are personal things. If a "John" wants to be Johano, Ĝano, Joĉjo, or even some unrelated name in Esperanto, that's their right.

October 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JiangtianG

What about names that have sounds which do not exist in Esperanto?

For example, the first part of my name, Jiang, which means "river" in Chinese, is pronunced /t͡ɕiaŋ/. Obvioulsy, neither /t͡ɕ/ nor /ŋ/ exists in Esperanto. If we perform a not-so-precise phonetic transliteration, chances are, we would end up with something that has a totally different meaning. One possible mimic could be Zjan(-o), which may very well mean "(to) panfry."

October 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

My chart only covered the 45 sounds of English. For Esperantizing names from a Chinese source, you probably want this Wikipedia page, which presents the system used by the magazine "El Popola Ĉinio." Assuming "Jiang" is in Pinyin, you name would then become "Ĝjiango" under that system.

However, based on the pronunciation you provided, it could also become something like "Tŝjiango" or "Tŝjiano."

October 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JiangtianG

Thank you. looks a bit strange to me but if that's what's widely recognized, I would go with that.

I'm still somewhat concerned in the case of changing /ŋ/ to /ng/. Ĝjango would sound a lot more like "the establishment of our nation" -- which is a fairly popular Chinese name, especially among senior people, rather than "river."

That said, I believe some people have tried to implement "double g" to distinguish between /ŋ/ and /ng/. I'm not sure how that works though. Please let me know if you have had experience with that.

October 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JiangtianG

In some cases, there is no plausible alternative in Esperanto to certain sounds in other languages. One quintessential example is the click consonants which are pretty common among African languages.

October 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

There's already a system for Anglicizing the click consonants. Usually one just "articulat[es] a non-click sound of approximately the same phonological position (p for ʘ, t for ǀ or ǂ, k for ǁ or ǃ)." I assume a similar system would work fine for Esperanto.

Esperanto only has 28 sounds, while the IPA recognizes 107 sounds (and has 52 diacritics and 4 prosodic markers to modify those) - so of course any time you Esperantize something, there's a high chance you're going to be compromising on sound. One just has to do one's best.

October 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JiangtianG

Good point!

October 16, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KomencantoAustin

Thanks for the post! This is really cool.

October 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keciro

my phonetic is erek lol

October 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nyagret

I'm lost here. Trying just the phenomic, I'm not understanding the IPO letters. One of my IPO letters is an i, but that's not an IPO letter on your list.

October 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

Use the i: entry for that.

I'm happy to offer any support you might need.

October 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nyagret

That's great. Thanks!

If you know how to "IPA" my screen name, that would help too. Nyagret is a contraction of an improper noun and someone's name so, it's not available on the Wictionary. It is pronounced Nyah-grey though, if it helps.

October 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nyagret

Oh, I missed the link for IPA-ing uncommon names.

So going with that process, I think I've deduced the IPA letters that I'm looking for: nj-ɑː-g-r-eɪ (the hyphens are between each IPA letter).

I'd still need to know the Esperanto letter for nj, as it's not on your conversion table.

Looks like g isn't on the conversion table either.

October 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

So you seem to end up Njagrejo or Njagrej'.

The lack of "g" is an oversight, which I will correct. "nj" gets read separately on the chart, and that becomes "n" and "j."

October 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eojeff

Nice post.

I should note, Being Colloquial in Esperanto by David K. JORDAN has a section on this subject.

Semi-related question for the OP: How does one go about learning IPA? Like one of the other commenters here, I have always found IPA to be "clear as mud."

October 12, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Trachurus1

I wanted to make Tinycards for this, but I only have the symbols /æ/, /ɛ/ and /ɪ/.
https://tinycards.duolingo.com/decks/MGWQxaaU/introduction-to-ipa-for-general-american-english

October 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NegoXing

Wikipedia showed the IPA for my name, but the IPA conversion chart that you have listed does not contain the only IPA letters which are in my name. Besides those letters, the letter conversion for my name remains the same. The IPAs I have are: e̞ and s̠.

October 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

So in IPA, "e" is a close-mid front unrounded vowel, while your "e̞" is a mid front unrounded vowel - both become "e" in Esperanto.

Similarly, the "s̠" is a voiceless alveolar retracted sibilant, which just becomes "s" or "ŝ" in Esperanto, since this sound does not exist in it and has to be approximated.

October 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnMcKeon5

Vere ĝenas min, ke ĉiuj respondoj estas en la angla.

October 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Trachurus1

I don't understand why /ɪ/ is translated to "e". To me it's obvious that Richard becomes Riĉardo, not Reĉardo (compare with Spanish Ricardo, not Recardo). Same for Michelle as Miŝela rather than Meŝelo (I read that in Esperanto many female names end in "a").

October 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

It's based on what sound is "closest" on the IPA vowel chart. (I did make some compromises on sound for various English "u" sounds though. I often added both "u" and the closest Esperanto vowel sound as options on my chart.)

October 26, 2019
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